A study published in the Journal of Dairy Science shows that a peptide fragment derived from cow’s milk, known as lactoferricin B25 (LFcinB25), may be a potential therapeutic agent for gastric cancer.
The researchers evaluated the effects of three peptide fragments derived from lactoferricin B, a peptide in milk that has antimicrobial properties. Only one of the fragments, LFcinB25 reduced the survival of human AGS (Gastric Adenocarcinoma) cells in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner.
Under a microscope the investigators could see that after an hour of exposure to the gastric cancer cells, LFcinB25 migrated to the cell membrane of the AGS cells, and within 24 hrs the cancer cells had shrunken in size and lost their ability to adhere to surfaces. In the early stages of exposure, LFcinB25 reduced cell viability through both apoptosis (programmed cell death) and autophagy (degradation and recycling of obsolete or damaged cell parts). At later stages, apoptosis appeared to dominate, possibly through caspase-dependent mechanisms, and autophagy waned.
The research also suggested a target, Beclin-1, which may enhance LFcinB25’s cytotoxic action. Beclin-1 is a protein in humans that plays a central role in autophagy, tumor growth, and degeneration of neurons. In this study, the investigators found that cleaved beclin-1 increased in a time-dependent manner after LFcinB25-exposure, suggesting to the researchers a new approach in drug development that may boost the anticancer effects of LFcinB25.